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 Grigori Aleksandrov

Born:   January 23, 1903
Deceased:   December 16, 1983

Soviet film director, actor, screenwriter, Peoples Actor of the USSR


Grigori Vasilyevich Aleksandrov (his real name was Mormonenko) was born on January (10) 23, 1903 into the family of a Ural miner in Yekaterinburg. Grigori started his working activity at the age of 9: he worked as a delivery man at the Yekaterinburg Opera Theater, then as an assistant to a property man, an electrician and a director assistant. 

In 1917 he graduated from the Yekaterinburg Music School (majoring in the violin). Three years later he graduated from the directors’ courses of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Theater and then he was appointed the instructor of the Gubobraznadzor Arts Department.
From 1921 Grigori worked as the actor of the Moscow First Working Theater of Proletkult. At the same time he got acquainted with Sergei Eisenstein. Jointly they staged several performances. In one of the performances even circus turns were used.
In 1924 Aleksandrov co-authored a scenario and Eisenstein helped him with his first movies Strike and Battleship Potemkin. Aleksandrov appeared in them as an actor as well.
From 1929 to 1932 Aleksandrov together with Eisenstein worked in the USA, where he trained his skills with the help of his colleagues in Hollywood.  In 1932 during a trip to Mexico they made the movie Long live Mexico! which was never finished, however. 
The year 1934 saw the release of his would-be classic film Jolly Fellows starring Leonid Utyosov and Lyubov Orlova. The film turned to be a landmark in Aleksandrov’s creative career. Even Stalin admired the film comedy when watching it in Kremlin.
The successful comedy was followed with The Circus based on the musical Under a Circus Dome by Katayev, Ilf and Petrov
Since then the invariable team — the film director Aleksandrov, the composer Dunayevsky, and the poet Lebedev Kumach — were jokingly nicknamed “Orlova’s trotters” since the movie was featuring the film director’s wife Lyubov Orlova, who acted and sang in it. 
The songs Volga-Volga, Light Way, Spring... and others, performed by Lyubov Orlova, were sung by entire country. 
In 1979 Aleksandrov used the materials shot in 1932 in Mexico and compiled the movie Long live Mexico! which won the honourable prize For Outstanding and Enduring Value for Development of World Cinema Art at the Moscow International Film Festival.
The People’s Actor of the USSR and the winner of two State Awards of the USSR - Grigori was the holder of awards and medals, as well as prizes of numerous international film festivals. Along with his cinema work he also taught in the VGIK. He is the author of the memoirs book Epoch and Cinema (1976).
In 1983 the director made his last work — the documentary film Lyubov Orlova... 
On December 16, 1983 Grigori Vasilyevich Aleksandrov died in Moscow of a renal infection and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

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